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Police chief on SC mass shooting that killed 1, injured 14: ‘This should have never happened’

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 12:01 AM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - North Charleston’s police chief called for the community to come forward with information on a shooting that left a teenager dead and 14 others wounded at an unauthorized concert.

Police Chief Reggie Burgess said the shooting happened Saturday night after an altercation broke out at a concert event that had not been announced or authorized by authorities.

“From what we are gathering right now, there was some altercation and then shots rang out,” Burgess said. He said there were multiple shooters, but did not know how many.

Burgess criticized how the event happened. Referring to a stage and bar set up in a grassy area where the event took place, he said those things should be staged at organized events at venues prepared for them like the North Charleston Coliseum, the RiverDogs Stadium or Waterfront Park.

“So this was unauthorized. We, law enforcement, had no clue about this. If we would have, we probably would have been able to save lives,” he said.

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.(North Charleston Police Department)

Deputy Chief Scott Deckard said police responded to the area of Piggly Wiggly Drive and W. Jimtown Drive at around 10:27 p.m. Saturday.

Officers say they reported to the area in reference to a shooting, but when they arrived they found numerous victims suffering from gunshot wounds.

Police did not specify the ages of the other victims, but said people of various ages attended the event.

Deckard says preliminary information is that a fight broke out near the stage during an unannounced and unauthorized concert event within the neighborhood.

The coroner’s office has not yet released the identity of the victim who died. But Burgess said that minutes before the news conference began, he visited with the family of the victim.

“I know the family,” he said.

He said victim advocates are working with the family.

The victims were transported to local hospitals and Deckard says several other victims were located at area hospitals, after they were transported by others.

Investigators say they were on the scene from shortly after shots rang out Saturday night until approximately 5 a.m. Sunday.

The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office assisted North Charleston Police at the scene.

North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess became emotional at a news conference following a...
North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess became emotional at a news conference following a shooting that left a 14-year-old dead and 13 others injured when asked about his resolve to stop violence in his city.(Live 5)

Burgess said his agency works to predict possible areas of trouble before they happen so that they are better able to respond and even prevent crimes.

“We call it predictive policing, but you can’t predict something that you don’t have any idea of, and as you know, some folks will always try to find a way to get around things,” he said. “And they’re not trying to get around things because it’s the right thing to do; they try to get around because it’s the wrong thing that they’re doing.”

He encouraged the community to provide any information they may have to investigators.

“I know about the stop snitching thing,” he said. “But guess what: That doesn’t apply for this. It doesn’t apply for this. Step up and do right by that young lady and those other 14 victims. See, my father always said to me, ‘You’re not snitching if you’re telling the truth.’ He said, ‘A man that tells the truth is telling the truth, that’s not snitching. Snitching is when you lie on somebody.’”

Burgess became emotional when asked about what he feels when he has to respond to a scene like the one Saturday night.

“Well, I’ll tell you one thing: It doesn’t make me want to give up,” he said. “I’m a human being just like you, young man. I weep like you do. I get sad like you do. You know, I get down like you do and I get stressed out. But the Lord I serve, believe me, His spirit is in me, and I get out here every day...to grind for the people of North Charleston. And it’s going to work out because that’s what the Lord said. I’m going to keep grinding for the people. We’re going to make this place safe. We’re gonna have problems once in a while, but overall, we’re going to live in peace.”

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.(North Charleston Police Department)

The Rev. Elden Heyward is a pastor at a neighboring church and he says he is surprised by the violence next door.

“It’s shocking, unexpected as always but these things happen and it doesn’t matter what neighborhood or where you are. It’s a tragedy so what do we do?” Heyward said. “We prayed for the community, for healing. How do we move on? We have to move on, accept what we cannot change. The sad part is how do you comfort people?”

Dalonzo Gibson was a witness who heard the gunshots and he says he first thought they were fireworks.

“I was sitting on the porch and talking to one of my friends and I heard a series of shots, at first I thought it was just fireworks,” Gibson said. “But then when I heard retaliation with an additional gun, because it sounded different, I knew they were guns.”

Heyward’s says his remorse rests in the community as a whole, even the perpetrators.

“When they catch the people who did this, the persons, it’s still a great tragedy, a sadness that is never going to be fulfilled,” Heyward said. “It’s heartbreaking, it’s heartbreaking and as a pastor I am confronted with the situations constantly. The devil is busy, he doesn’t care about God’s house, God’s holy ground.”

Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call the North Charleston Police Department at 843-740-2800, Charleston County Consolidated Dispatch at 843-743-7200 or Crime Stoppers of the Lowcountry at 843-554-1111.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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